While they were shooting the first High School Musical in 2005, a real-life romance quietly blossomed between teenage stars Zac Efron, 19, and Vanessa Hudgens, 18, PEOPLE reports in its latest cover story.
And while filming its sequel, HSM2 this spring, the two were still going strong. "They were sitting on each other's laps and holding hands," says a restaurant hostess who was on the scene. "It was really cute."
Efron and Hudgens, both raised in California, have kept their romance scrupulously low-profile. On the HSM2 set, "if you didn't know they were dating, you wouldn't know they were dating," says a production source. "They're really good at not being obvious."
Not that they didn't become more open as news of their relationship gradually leaked out. And why hide?
"Two people fell in love," says costar Monique Coleman. "Who cares? We're good kids."
For more on Zac & Vanessa's romance, including photos from their Hawaiian holiday and early yearbook pics, check out the latest PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday